Matrix & Transformation: Chapter 1

2004-11-16

Richard Moore

Copyright 2004 Richard K. Moore

_________________________________________________   

CHAPTER 1 - THE MATRIX


* Are you ready for the red pill?

The defining dramatic moment in the film The Matrix occurs
just after Morpheus invites Neo to choose between a red pill
and a blue pill. The red pill promises "the truth, nothing
more." Neo takes the red pill and awakes to reality --
something utterly different from anything Neo, or the
audience, could have expected. What Neo had assumed to be
reality turned out to be only a collective illusion,
fabricated by the Matrix and fed to a population that is
asleep, cocooned in grotesque embryonic pods. In Plato's
famous parable about the shadows on the walls of the cave,
true reality is at least reflected in perceived reality. In
the Matrix world, true reality and perceived reality exist on
entirely different planes.

The story is intended as metaphor, and the parallels that drew
my attention had to do with political reality. This article
offers a particular perspective on what's going on in the
world -- and how things got to be that way -- in this era of
globalization. From that red-pill perspective, everyday
media-consensus reality -- like the Matrix in the film -- is
seen to be a fabricated collective illusion. Like Neo, I
didn't know what I was looking for when my investigation
began, but I knew that what I was being told didn't make
sense. I read scores of histories and biographies of
historical figures, observing connections between them, and
began to develop my own theories about roots of various
historical events. I found myself largely in agreement with
writers like Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti, but I also
perceived important patterns that others seem to have missed.

When I started tracing historical forces, and began to
interpret present-day events from a historical perspective. I
could see the same old dynamics at work and found a meaning in
unfolding events far different from what official
pronouncements proclaimed. Such pronouncements are, after all,
public relations fare, given out by politicians who want to
look good to the voters. Most of us expect rhetoric from
politicians, and take what they say with a grain of salt. But
as my own picture of present reality came into focus, "grain
of salt" no longer worked as a metaphor. I began to see that
consensus reality -- as generated by official rhetoric and
amplified by mass media -- bears very little relationship to
actual reality. "The matrix" was a metaphor I was ready for.


* Imperialism and the matrix 

From the time of Columbus to 1945, world affairs were largely
dominated by competition among Western nations seeking to
stake out spheres of influence, control sea lanes, and exploit
colonial empires. Each Western power became the core of an
imperialist economy whose periphery was managed for the
benefit of the core nation. Military might determined the
scope of an empire; wars were initiated when a core nation
felt it had sufficient power to expand its periphery at the
expense of a competitor. Economies and societies in the
periphery were kept backward -- to keep their populations
under control, to provide cheap labor, and to guarantee
markets for goods manufactured in the core. Imperialism robbed
the periphery not only of wealth but also of its ability to
develop its own societies, cultures, and economies in a
natural way for local benefit.

The driving force behind Western imperialism has always been
the pursuit of economic gain, ever since Isabella commissioned
Columbus on his first entrepreneurial voyage. The rhetoric of
empire concerning wars, however, has typically been about
other things -- the White Man's Burden, bringing true religion
to the heathens, Manifest Destiny, defeating the Yellow Peril
or the Hun, seeking lebensraum, or making the world safe for
democracy. Any fabricated motivation for war or empire would
do, as long as it appealed to the collective consciousness of
the population at the time. The propaganda lies of yesterday
were recorded and became consensus history -- the fabric of
the matrix.

While the costs of territorial empire (fleets, colonial
administrations, etc.) were borne by Western taxpayers
generally, the profits of imperialism were enjoyed primarily
by private corporations and investors. Government and
corporate elites were partners in the business of imperialism:
empires gave government leaders power and prestige, and gave
corporate leaders power and wealth. Corporations ran the real
business of empire while government leaders fabricated noble
excuses for the wars that were required to keep that business
going. Matrix reality was about patriotism, national honor,
and heroic causes; true reality was on another plane
altogether: that of economics.

Industrialization, beginning in the late 1700s, created a
demand for new markets and increased raw materials; both
demands spurred accelerated expansion of empire. Wealthy
investors amassed fortunes by setting up large-scale
industrial and trading operations, leading to the emergence of
an influential capitalist elite. Like any other elite,
capitalists used their wealth and influence to further their
own interests however they could. And the interests of
capitalism always come down to economic growth; investors must
reap more than they sow or the whole system comes to a
grinding halt.

Thus capitalism, industrialization, nationalism, warfare,
imperialism -- and the matrix -- coevolved. Industrialized
weapon production provided the muscle of modern warfare, and
capitalism provided the appetite to use that muscle.
Government leaders pursued the policies necessary to expand
empire while creating a rhetorical matrix, around nationalism,
to justify those policies. Capitalist growth depended on
empire, which in turn depended on a strong and stable core
nation to defend it. National interests and capitalist
interests were inextricably linked -- or so it seemed for more
than two centuries.


 * World War II and Pax Americana 
 
1945 will be remembered as the year World War II ended and the
bond of the atomic nucleus was broken. But 1945 also marked
another momentous fission -- breaking of the bond between
national and capitalist interests. After every previous war,
and in many cases after severe devastation, European nations
had always picked themselves back up and resumed their
competition over empire. But after World War II, a Pax
Americana was established. The US began to manage all the
Western peripheries on behalf of capitalism generally, while
preventing the communist powers from interfering in the game.
Capitalist powers no longer needed to fight over investment
realms, and competitive imperialism was replaced by collective
imperialism (see sidebar). Opportunities for capital growth
were no longer linked to the military power of nations, apart
from the power of America. In his "Killing Hope, U.S. Military
and CIA Interventions since World War II", William Blum
chronicles hundreds of significant covert and overt
interventions, showing exactly how the US carried out its
imperial management role.


      * Sidebar
      
      Elite planning for postwar neo-imperialism...
      
      Recommendation P-B23 (July, 1941) stated that worldwide
      financial institutions were necessary for the purpose of
      "stabilizing currencies and facilitating programs of capital
      investment for constructive undertakings in backward and
      underdeveloped regions." During the last half of 1941 and in
      the first months of 1942, the Council developed this idea for
      the integration of the worldŠ. Isaiah Bowman first suggested a
      way to solve the problem of maintaining effective control over
      weaker territories while avoiding overt imperial conquest. At
      a Council meeting in May 1942, he stated that the United
      States had to exercise the strength needed to assure
      "security," and at the same time "avoid conventional forms of
      imperialism." The way to do this, he argued, was to make the
      exercise of that power international in character through a
      United Nations body. - Laurence Shoup & William Minter, in
      Holly Sklar's Trilateralism (see access, page XX), writing
      about strategic recommendations developed during World War II
      by the Council on Foreign Relations.


In the postwar years matrix reality diverged ever further from
actual reality. In the postwar matrix world, imperialism had
been abandoned and the world was being "democratized"; in the
real world, imperialism had become better organized and more
efficient. In the matrix world the US "restored order," or
"came to the assistance" of nations which were being
"undermined by Soviet influence"; in the real world, the
periphery was being systematically suppressed and exploited.
In the matrix world, the benefit was going to the periphery in
the form of countless aid programs; in the real world, immense
wealth was being extracted from the periphery.

Growing glitches in the matrix weren't noticed by most people
in the West, because the postwar years brought unprecedented
levels of Western prosperity and social progress. The rhetoric
claimed progress would come to all, and Westerners could see
it being realized in their own towns and cities. The West
became the collective core of a global empire, and
exploitative development led to prosperity for Western
populations, while generating immense riches for corporations,
banks, and wealthy capital investors.


* Glitches in the matrix, popular rebellion, and neoliberalism

The parallel agenda of Third-World exploitation and Western
prosperity worked effectively for the first two postwar
decades. But in the 1960s large numbers of Westerners,
particularly the young and well educated, began to notice
glitches in the matrix. In Vietnam imperialism was too naked
to be successfully masked as something else. A major split in
American public consciousness occurred, as millions of
anti-war protestors and civil-rights activists punctured the
fabricated consensus of the 1950s and declared the reality of
exploitation and suppression both at home and abroad. The
environmental movement arose, challenging even the
exploitation of the natural world. In Europe, 1968 joined 1848
as a landmark year of popular protest.

These developments disturbed elite planners. The postwar
regime's stability was being challenged from within the core
-- and the formula of Western prosperity no longer guaranteed
public passivity. A report published in 1975, the "Report of
the Trilateral Task Force on Governability of Democracies",
provides a glimpse into the thinking of elite circles. Alan
Wolfe discusses this report in Holly Sklar's eye-opening
"Trilateralism". Wolfe focuses especially on the analysis
Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington presented in a section
of the report entitled "The Crisis of Democracy." Huntington
is an articulate promoter of elite policy shifts, and
contributes pivotal articles to publications such as the
Council on Foreign Relations's "Foreign Affairs".

Huntington tells us that democratic societies "cannot work"
unless the citizenry is "passive." The "democratic surge of
the 1960s" represented an "excess of democracy," which must be
reduced if governments are to carry out their traditional
domestic and foreign policies. Huntington's notion of
"traditional policies" is expressed in a passage from the
report:

      To the extent that the United States was governed by anyone
      during the decades after World War II, it was governed by the
      President acting with the support and cooperation of key
      individuals and groups in the executive office, the federal
      bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses,
      banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the
      private sector's "Establishment."

In these few words Huntington spells out the reality that
electoral democracy has little to do with how America is run,
and summarizes the kind of people who are included within the
elite planning community. Who needs conspiracy theories when
elite machinations are clearly described in public documents
like these?

Besides failing to deliver popular passivity, the policy of
prosperity for Western populations had another downside,
having to do with Japan's economic success. Under the Pax
Americana umbrella, Japan had been able to industrialize and
become an imperial player -- the prohibition on Japanese
rearmament had become irrelevant. With Japan's then-lower
living standards, Japanese producers could undercut prevailing
prices and steal market share from Western producers. Western
capital needed to find a way to become more competitive on
world markets, and Western prosperity was standing in the way.
Elite strategists, as Huntington showed, were fully capable of
understanding these considerations, and the requirements of
corporate growth created a strong motivation to make the
needed adjustments -- in both reality and rhetoric.

If popular prosperity could be sacrificed, there were many
obvious ways Western capital could be made more competitive.
Production could be moved overseas to low-wage areas, allowing
domestic unemployment to rise. Unions could be attacked and
wages forced down, and people could be pushed into temporary
and part-time jobs without benefits. Regulations governing
corporate behavior could be removed, corporate and
capital-gains taxes could be reduced, and the revenue losses
could be taken out of public-service budgets. Public
infrastructures could be privatized, the services reduced to
cut costs, and then they could be milked for easy profits
while they deteriorated from neglect.

These are the very policies and programs launched during the
Reagan-Thatcher years in the US and Britain. They represent a
systematic project of increasing corporate growth at the
expense of popular prosperity and welfare. Such a real agenda
would have been unpopular, and a corresponding matrix reality
was fabricated for public consumption. The matrix reality used
real terms like "deregulation," "reduced taxes," and
"privatization," but around them was woven an economic
mythology. The old, failed laissez-faire doctrine of the 1800s
was reintroduced with the help of Milton Friedman's Chicago
School of economics, and "less government" became the proud
"modern" theme in America and Britain. Sensible regulations
had restored financial stability after the Great Depression,
and had broken up anti-competitive monopolies such as the
Rockefeller trust and AT&T. But in the new matrix reality, all
regulations were considered bureaucratic interference. Reagan
and Thatcher preached the virtues of individualism, and
promised to "get government off people's backs." The
implication was that ordinary people were to get more money
and freedom, but in reality the primary benefits would go to
corporations and wealthy investors.

The academic term for laissez-faire economics is "economic
liberalism," and hence the Reagan-Thatcher revolution has come
to be known as the "neoliberal revolution." It brought a
radical change in actual reality by returning to the economic
philosophy that led to sweatshops, corruption, and
robber-baron monopolies in the nineteenth century. It brought
an equally radical change in matrix reality -- a complete
reversal in the attitude that was projected regarding
government. Government policies had always been criticized in
the media, but the institution of government had always been
respected -- reflecting the traditional bond between
capitalism and nationalism. With Reagan, we had a sitting
president telling us that government itself was a bad thing.
Many of us may have agreed with him, but such a sentiment had
never before found official favor. Soon, British and American
populations were beginning to applaud the destruction of the
very democratic institutions that provided their only hope of
participation in the political process.


* Globalization and world government

The essential bond between capitalism and nationalism was
broken in 1945, but it took some time for elite planners to
fully recognize this new condition and to begin bringing the
world system into alignment with it. The strong Western nation
state had been the bulwark of capitalism for centuries, and
initial postwar policies were based on the assumption that
this would continue indefinitely. The Bretton Woods financial
system (the IMF, World Bank, and a system of fixed exchange
rates among major currencies) was set up to stabilize national
economies, and popular prosperity was encouraged to provide
political stability. Neoliberalism in the US and Britain
represented the first serious break with this policy framework
-- and brought the first visible signs of the fission of the
nation-capital bond.

The neoliberal project was economically profitable for
corporations in the US and Britain, and the public accepted
the matrix economic mythology. Meanwhile, the integrated
global economy gave rise to a new generation of transnational
corporations, and corporate leaders began to realize that
corporate growth was not dependent on strong core
nation-states. Indeed, Western nations -- with their
environmental laws, consumer-protection measures, and other
forms of regulatory "interference" -- were a burden on
corporate growth. Having been successfully field tested in the
two oldest "democracies," the neoliberal project moved onto
the global stage. The Bretton Woods system of fixed rates of
currency exchange was weakened, and the international
financial system became destabilizing, instead of stabilizing,
for national economies. The radical free-trade project was
launched, leading eventually in 1993 to the World Trade
Organization. The fission that had begun in 1945 was finally
manifesting as an explosive change in the world system.

The objective of neoliberal free-trade treaties is to remove
all political controls over domestic and international trade
and commerce. Corporations have free rein to maximize profits,
heedless of environmental consequences and safety risks.
Instead of governments regulating corporations, the WTO now
sets rules for governments, telling them what kind of beef
they must import, whether or not they can ban asbestos, and
what additives they must permit in petroleum products. So far,
in every case where the WTO has been asked to review a health,
safety, or environmental regulation, the regulation has been
overturned.

Most of the world has been turned into a periphery; the
imperial core has been boiled down to the capitalist elite
themselves, represented by their bureaucratic,
unrepresentative, WTO world government. The burden of
accelerated imperialism falls hardest outside the West, where
loans are used as a lever by the IMF to compel debtor nations
such as Rwanda and South Korea to accept suicidal "reform"
packages. In the 1800s, genocide was employed to clear North
America and Australia of their native populations, creating
room for growth. Today, a similar program of genocide has
apparently been unleashed against sub-Saharan Africa. The IMF
destroys the economies, the CIA trains militias and stirs up
tribal conflicts, and the West sells weapons to all sides.
Famine and genocidal civil wars are the predictable and
inevitable result. Meanwhile, AIDS runs rampant while the WTO
and the US government use trade laws to prevent medicines from
reaching the victims.

In matrix reality, globalization is not a project but rather
the "inevitable" result of beneficial market forces. Genocide
in Africa is no fault of the West, but is due to ancient
tribal rivalries. Every measure demanded by globalization is
referred to as "reform," (the word is never used with irony).
"Democracy" and "reform" are frequently used together, always
leaving the subtle impression that one has something to do
with the other. The illusion is presented that all economic
boats are rising, and if yours isn't, it must be your own
fault: you aren't "competitive" enough. Economic failures are
explained away as "temporary adjustments," or else the victim
is blamed for not being sufficiently neoliberal. "Investor
confidence" is referred to with the same awe and reverence
that earlier societies might have expressed toward the "will
of the gods."

Western quality of life continues to decline, while the WTO
establishes legal precedents ensuring that its authority will
not be challenged when its decisions become more draconian.
Things will get much worse in the West; this was anticipated
in elite circles when the neoliberal project was still on the
drawing board, as is illustrated in Samuel Huntington's "The
Crisis of Democracy" report discussed earlier.


* The management of discontented societies

The postwar years, especially in the United States, were
characterized by consensus politics. Most people shared a
common understanding of how society worked, and generally
approved of how things were going. Prosperity was real and the
matrix version of reality was reassuring. Most people believed
in it. Those beliefs became a shared consensus, and the
government could then carry out its plans as it intended,
"responding" to the programmed public will.

The "excess democracy" of the 1960s and 1970s attacked this
shared consensus from below, and neoliberal planners decided
from above that ongoing consensus wasn't worth paying for.
They accepted that segments of society would persist in
disbelieving various parts of the matrix. Activism and protest
were to be expected. New means of social control would be
needed to deal with activist movements and with growing
discontent, as neoliberalism gradually tightened the economic
screws. Such means of control were identified and have since
been largely implemented, particularly in the United States.
In many ways America sets the pace of globalization;
innovations can often be observed there before they occur
elsewhere. This is particularly true in the case of
social-control techniques.

The most obvious means of social control, in a discontented
society, is a strong, semi-militarized police force. Most of
the periphery has been managed by such means for centuries.
Urban and suburban ghettos in America -- where the adverse
consequences of neoliberalism are currently most concentrated
-- have literally become occupied territories, where police
beatings and unjustified shootings are commonplace. So that
the beefed-up police force could maintain control in
conditions of mass unrest, elite planners also realized that
much of the Bill of Rights would need to be neutralized. This
is not surprising, given that the Bill's authors had just
lived through a revolution and were seeking to ensure that
future generations would have the means to organize and
overthrow any oppressive future government.

In the matrix, the genre of the TV or movie police drama has
served to create a reality in which "rights" are a joke, the
accused are despicable sociopaths, and no criminal is ever
brought to justice until some noble cop or prosecutor bends
the rules a bit. Government officials bolstered the construct
in the 1980s and 1990s by declaring "wars" on crime and drugs;
the noble cops are fighting a war out there in the streets --
and you can't win a war without using your enemy's dirty
tricks. The CIA plays its role by managing the international
drug trade and making sure that ghetto drug dealers are well
supplied. In this way, the American public was led down the
garden path to accepting the means of its own suppression.

The covert guiding of various social movements has proven to
be one of the most effective means of programming factions and
stirring them against one another. Fundamentalist religious
movements have been particularly useful. They have been used
not only within the US, but also to maximize divisiveness in
the Middle East and for other purposes throughout the empire.
The collective energy and dedication of "true believers" makes
them a potent political weapon that movement leaders can
readily aim where needed. In the US that weapon has been used
to attack the women's movement, to support repressive
legislation, and generally to bolster the ranks of what is
called in the matrix the "right wing."

In the matrix, the various factions believe that their
competition with each other is the process that determines
society's political agenda. Politicians want votes, and hence
the biggest and best-organized factions should have the most
influence, and their agendas should get the most political
attention. In reality there is only one significant political
agenda these days: the maximization of capital growth through
the dismantling of society, the continuing implementation of
neoliberalism, and the management of empire. During the
Clinton era, his liberal rhetoric and his playing around with
health care and gay rights were not the result of liberal
pressure. They were rather the means by which Clinton was sold
to liberal voters, so that he could proceed with real
business: getting NAFTA through Congress, promoting the WTO,
giving away the public airwaves, justifying military
interventions, and so forth. Issues of genuine importance are
never raised in campaign politics -- this is a major glitch in
the matrix for those who have eyes to see it.


* The New American Century

The New American Century began on September 11, 2001. For
anyone familiar with the history of American war-enabling
"outrage incidents", the attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon were highly suspicious from the very beginning. Four
planes were known to be hijacked for more than an hour, and
yet no fighters were scrambled to intercept them -- not even
after the first Tower had been hit. This is completely
contrary to standard procedure. Typically, when any flight
goes off course in the U.S., even if it's not a hijacking,
interceptors are scrambled within minutes. The manner in which
the Towers collapsed was also highly suspicious --
particularly the third tower, which was not even struck by a
plane. All three collapsed in precisely the manner one would
expect from a professional demolition, and numerous fire
fighters and other eyewitnesses reported hearing explosions in
the buildings -- after the fires had been brought mostly under
control. Although the Administration expressed complete
surprise at the attacks, it claimed to know the exact
identities of all the hijackers within hours of the event.
While the whole world was transfixed to TV screens, awed at
the magnitude of the attacks, President Bush read stories to
children and other top administration officials carried on
with their normal schedules. The announcement of the War On
Terrorism and the Patriot Act followed entirely too rapidly to
have been the result of a surprise attack.

As more information emerged in the following weeks and months,
the official version of the 9/11 events became increasingly
untenable. The administration had received dozens of warnings
that Al Qaeda was planning to use hijacked aircraft as attack
planes, contrary to White House claims of being caught
completely by surprise. In fact, the Pentagon had carried out
practice exercises in anticipation of precisely such an
attack. Two weeks prior to the attacks, Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad,
head of Pakistani Intelligence, transferred $100,000 to the
account of Mohammed Atta, leader of the alleged hijackers.
While the attacks were being carried out, Ahmad was having
breakfast in the Senate lunch room with members of the Select
Committee on Intelligence. The FBI identified Ahmad as the
"moneybags of the hijacking", and yet he was allowed to leave
the country and there has been no follow-up regarding his
involvement. About the only thing supporting the
Administration's official version of events is the inability
of most people to imagine that the events of 9/11 could have
been an inside job. For those familiar with America's history
of "outrage incidents", not much imagination is required.

We now know that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and crew came into the
White House with a detailed agenda up their sleeves, and it
was an agenda that would have been very difficult to pursue
without the dramatic events of 9/11. Indeed, such an agenda
would have been incomplete if it did not include a plan for
achieving domestic public acceptance and international
acquiescence. And after 9/11, the pre-existing agenda was
immediately launched into implementation. In terms of
evaluating suspected perpetrators for 9/11, one must clearly
attribute to top U.S. elites motive, opportunity, means, modus
operandi, and lack of alibi. In addition there has been no
evidence presented that is contrary to their culpability.

The agenda of the new White House was written up as a report,
"Rebuilding America's Defenses -- Strategy, Forces and
Resources For a New Century", produced in September 2000 by
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The report is
an updated version of a classified "Defense Policy Guidance"
document drafted in 1992 under the supervision of Paul
Wolfowitz. Some of the founding members of PNAC include Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President Dick Cheney,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Defense Policy Board
chairman Richard Perle. Here are some excerpts from their
written agenda for the New American Century:

   "The United States has for decades sought to play a more
    permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved
    conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
    for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends
    the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein". (p. 14)
    
   "Further, these constabulary missions are far more complex and
    likely to generate violence than traditional 'peacekeeping'
    missions. For one, they demand American political leadership
    rather than that of the United Nations, as the failure of the UN
    mission in the Balkans and the relative success of NATO
    operations there attests" (p. 11).
  
   "Despite the shifting focus of conflict in Europe, a
    requirement to station U.S. forces in northern and central
    Europe remains. The region is stable, but a continued American
    presence helps to assure the major European powers, especially
    Germany, that the United States retains its long-standing
    security interest in the continent. This is especially
    important in light of the nascent European moves toward an
    independent defense 'identity' and policy; it is important
    that NATO not be replaced by the European Union, leaving the
    United States without a voice in European security affairs"
    (p. 16).
  
   "Since today's peace is the unique product of American
    preeminence, a failure to preserve that preeminence allows others
    an opportunity to shape the world in ways antithetical to
    American interests and principles. The price of American
    preeminence is that, just as it was actively obtained, it must be
    actively maintained" (p. 73).
    
  "To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades,
    the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to
    experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and
    seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs" (p.
    50).
    
   "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings
    revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some
    catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor" (p. 51).

Soon after the PNAC crew managed to gain control of the White
House, they got their "new Pearl Harbor", they got their
"substantial American force presence in the Gulf" under
"American political leadership", and the revolution in
military affairs is now moving "more aggressively". The "War
on Terrorism", enabled by 9/11's "new Pearl Harbor", is the
smoke screen behind which the agenda of the New American
Century is being aggressively implemented. American
"preeminence", apparently, is to be ensured into the future.
No challenge to U.S. military or economic supremacy is to be
tolerated.
   
   
_________________________________________________   

Share this: